This Week’s Torah Portion – Parashat Yitro (Exodus 18:1-20:23)

I discuss the weekly Torah portion with Rabbi Rabbs Mondays at 7:00 pm PST on my cam and on YouTube. Facebook Fan Page.

This week we study Parashat Yitro (Exodus 18:1-20:23).

* Do Jews take up too much space on the sidewalk?

* I’m a lot like Moses. I too get tired sitting in judgment all day on the Jewish people. Perhaps I need to deputize some junior bloggers?

* Moses tells Jethro, “When the people have a dispute, they come to me and I make known the law of God.” God is revealed through His law, not through theological doctrines. We too can find God through our disputes with our fellow by searching out the law. There aren’t matters too mundane for the law and for God.

* DMedic tells me: “What I learned from you and the Rabbi has kept me spiritually very stable. You guys helped me feel less guilt and made me more willing to fight against doing things that are wrong everyday. I could go on a rant but I just wanted to check in and let you and the Rabbi know that I haven’t forgotten the hard work you both have put out.”

* God tells the Israelites to get ready for his divine revelation by washing (Ex. 19:10)! Cleanliness is next to Godliness!

* God tells Moses, You shall set boundaries for the people (Ex. 19:12). One of the first things I learned in therapy was that I needed to start noticing and respecting boundaries.

* A mate of mine from Australia advises me: “Pull your finger out and get an asian girlfriend.” When I get married, things are going to be special in a way my secular friend will never understand.

* Ex. 19:16. The sound of the shofar was powerful. You have to be pretty thick not to be shaken by the sound of the shofar.

* Rabbi Berel Wein writes: Many times a new convert is most hesitant to give advice or counsel to the Jewish society. After all, the word “ger”- convert – in Hebrew, has the connotation of being a stranger, an outsider, someone who is only a sojourner and not yet necessarily a full fledged citizen. Therefore it is most understandable that such a person may feel somewhat reticent at giving suggestions and advice to those who have been Jews for generations and since their birth.

Yitro’s boldness in asserting himself immediately into advising and improving Jewish society is a testimony to his comfort level, sincerity and commitment regarding the Jewish people and its Torah values and strictures. That is why he is given so much respect and prominence in the Torah of the Jewish people.

* I’m often struck by the uncanny parallels between myself and Yitro. Rabbi Wein writes: “Yitro is one of the most enigmatic of all of the personages that appear in the Torah. There are many Yitros in Yitro’s life and perhaps this is the reason that the rabbis taught us that he possessed seven different names. Each name perhaps represented a different Yitro at a different point of his life. We meet him at the crossroads of his life’s choices and beliefs. On one hand he is a priest or former priest of paganism in Midian. He has experimented with every form of religion in the world before coming to the faith of monotheism. He is influenced undoubtedly by his unexpected son-in- law, Moshe. But he is also greatly influenced by the Exodus from Egypt and the visible and impressive miracles that accompanied this event.”

* It’s important to write down your observations when you are new to something or some place because your observations will often be keener than when you become more familiar. Rabbi Wein writes: “Yitro is the ultimate “outsider” looking in to see Torah and the Jewish people. Many times the “outsider” sees things more clearly than the “insider” in a society does. In Yiddish there is an expression that a temporary guest sees for a mile.”

* Does the rabbi and his GF have their special song?

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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